Democrats’ immigration progress
Asurprising yet welcome trend among some moderate House Democrats appears to have taken hold: enforcing our immigration laws and encouraging the cultural integration of legal immigrants. The latest episode in this trend happened two weeks ago, when 36 brave Democrats crossed party lines to support an amendment approving legal protections for employers who designate English as their exclusive work-place language.
Adopted by a 218-186 margin, the measure would prevent the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from pursuing civil legal action against employers who require their employees to speak English. A similar measure was adopted earlier this year by the Senate, thanks to Democrats Daniel Inouye, Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, who approved the measure in committee.
Such protections are needed to ensure that the language of success in the United States is not undermined in episodes like a 2002 case where the EEOC sought to force a Phoenix-area drive-thru restaurant to allow employees to communicate in an American Indian dialect.
The Nov. 8 vote approving the Englishonly amendment infuriated the 21-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which sought retribution by attempting to force the House to adjourn before an important vote on a legislative patch to prevent millions of taxpayers from being hit by the alternative minimum tax. The caucus’ effort to shut the House down failed by a 204-184 vote.
Of the 36 Democrats who crossed over on the workplace language amendment, 20 are members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats from conservative districts, including many freshmen who ran on immigration-enforcement platforms in 2006.
Their support for ensuring the viability of English as the language of American enterprise comes on the heels of a laudable bill introduced by Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler along with 43 other Democrats, including 27 other Blue Dogs and 57 Republicans. Aptly named the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, Mr. Shuler’s bill would require employers to verify the legal status of their employees, add 8,000 new Border Patrol agents, increase aerial monitoring of the border and expand the E-Verify program administered by the Department of Homeland Security for employers to easily verify their employees’ Social Security numbers.
While most Democratic presidential candidates, including the two frontrunners, say they support New York’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, a Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen poll two weeks ago found an overwhelming 77 percent of the public disagrees. And poll after poll shows the majority of Americans want lawmakers to prioritize immigration enforcement above all other immigration proposals. It is heartening to see House Democrats assume this enforcement mantle. We hope their Senate counterparts follow suit.